Anti-Semitism is all over the drive to make Chuck Schumer shut up about his opposition to the Iran nuke deal.The lefty site Daily Kos posted a cartoon showing Schumer with an Israeli flag and calling him a “traitor.”MoveOn argues that “our country doesn’t need another Joe Lieberman in the Senate,” a reference to Connecticut’s ex-senator — who, like Schumer, is Jewish.White House buddy Fareed Zakaria waved at anti-Semitic stereotypes, saying Schumer’s motive is just “money” — “If he were to support President Obama on this, if he were to support this deal, he knows it would create a firestorm of opposition, particularly among, perhaps, you know, wealthy supporters.”Of course, Obama himself griped about pressure from “lobbyists” — i.e., Jewish and pro-Israel activists — spending “tens of million of dollars” to stop the deal. He reportedly blamed “the pro-Israel community” for stirring up a fight.
Overstating the case for the agreement belies the gravity of the issue and does more to breed distrust than win support. Smearing critics is even less effective. In his speech, the president suggested that critics of the deal are the same people who argued for the war in Iraq. The message wasn’t very subtle: Those who oppose the agreement are warmongers. (Of course, those who voted for the Iraq War resolution in 2002 include Obama’s vice president and secretary of state.)Then he went further, saying: “It’s those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.” From a president who often complains about hyper-partisanship, and whose stated aim is to elevate the discourse, the public deserved something better.Emblematic of all this — and what has prompted me to write — was the treatment of Senator Chuck Schumer. In his thoughtful statement opposing the deal, Schumer noted that the best course of action is not clear. Reasonable people can and do disagree. Yet rather than acknowledging a respectful difference of opinion, the president’s spokesperson and others close to the White House suggested that Schumer’s decision may cost him the opportunity to become the leader of the Senate’s Democratic caucus. What they should have said is: President Obama signed legislation that gives Congress a voice on any deal with Iran. This debate is far bigger than partisan politics, and personal political considerations should play no role in deciding it.